Millennials, who have seen their fair share of economic hardships, are taking to TikTok to tell Gen Z not to stress too much about job security.
Rod Thill, Su Hyun Kim, and Taylor Tieman
- Millennials on TikTok are telling Gen Z that job stability is overrated.
- Gen Z should spend their 20s thinking about what they’re passionate about, creators told Insider.
- Student debt, recessions, and a housing crisis haven’t given millennials much financial stability overall.
In many ways, the future for Gen Z looks dire. They are constantly stressed about money, feel helpless against impending climate disaster, and can’t afford homes.
Millennials, who have seen their fair share of economic hardships, are taking to TikTok to tell Gen Z not to stress too much yet.
Their advice is in response to hundreds of videos from Gen Z teenagers and adults — across multiple hashtags and sounds — asking millennials about the most important lessons they learned in their 20s.
In one such TikTok that received over 150 responses, a user asked people in their 30s what they prioritized in their 20s but don’t care about anymore.
“Stability,” user Su Hyun Kim said in her own viral response, which racked up over 300,000 likes. “Stability in your 20s is an overrated thing, as long as you get your basic needs met.”
Kim, 39, is the CEO and founder of the company Arte Original, an online gallery for artists in Latin America.
“Young people are very worried about the economy and inflation and they say it’s hard to take a risk,” she said. “But if you spend this time paralyzed and not really figuring out who you are, what’s right for you, and explore what you’re curious about, time will pass, and once you feel like, ‘now I can pursue those curiosities,’ it might be too late.”
She told Insider that she missed out on a lot of opportunities in her 20s because she was focused on having a stable job and finances, opportunities that are harder to take advantage of now that she has more responsibilities.
“Don’t pay too much attention to a recession and what bad news you think is coming,” Kim said. “You still have to live your life.”
“Question everything and the typical ‘path’ you’ve been told to take”
Before Kim started her own company in October 2021, she worked in economic development — at the World Bank and as a trust fund manager at the Inter-American Development bank.
Although she said she liked a lot of her projects, they weren’t what she was passionate about. She developed an interest in creating an online gallery over the years, but kept putting it off.
If you attempt a career change in your 20s, she said, “society says you tried something, and it didn’t work out… but if you do that in your late 30s and you have kids, that’s a lot of pressure on your family and looks like a mid-life crisis.”
Kim said that an ACL tear in 2019 and her father’s deteriorating health in 2020 caused her to re-evaluate how she was spending her time and energy.
“I had another friend whose husband had cancer and had to put starting her business on halt…. these types of events we thought would happen in our 50s. But it all happens in our 30s,” she said. “Things happen, but that’s just part of life, right? It doesn’t rain, it pours.”
Some millennials warn that squandering your 20s on doing what you think you’re supposed to — rather than what you want to be doing — is wasting the period that typically carries the fewest obligations.
Rod Thill, 32, a social media strategist and content creator, has repeatedly posted on TikTok about learning to prioritize his mental health over a traditional job.
“When I realized my career path and life journey were mine to live, everything changed,” he told Insider.
Taylor Tieman, 32, was also “miserable” pursuing stability at a conventional workplace in her 20s before leaving to start her own company. She’s currently the principal attorney at a law office she started in 2019, as well as the founder of the Legalmiga Library, which provides legal resources for business owners.
Responding to the same TikTok sound as Kim, Tieman said that she cared about getting “the ‘perfect’ law firm job” straight out of law school and ending up on the partner track — a common goal for many young lawyers.
She told Insider that her advice to Gen Z would be to “question everything and the typical ‘path’ you’ve been told to take.”
Rigid career paths are especially common at law firms, she explained.
“The legal profession, along with so many others, is stuck in these outdated mindsets that we have to be in an office chair for 8, 10, 12 hours a day or else we’re not productive,” she said. “Times have changed, technology has changed,” she said, adding that she’s more productive in fewer hours at home, and that working for herself gave her the flexibility to have and raise children.
Tieman said that her perspective on work changed in 2017, when her three remaining grandparents all died.
“I was overworking myself at a law firm,” she said. “When something like that happens, you really do a gut check of what is important to you. So that is when I started searching around for other ways to use my legal skills but also live a life where I could be happy and balanced.”
Kim said that in a lot of ways, it’s a privilege to seek anything other than financial stability, especially in your 20s — but maintained that branching out is essential life planning.
“You’re going to learn how to make a living,” she said. “And immediately after, you’re going to go through that process of wondering what you really want to do.”